I think it's safe to say that most ASD kids attending mainstream school are quite high functioning and that with proper supports in place they should continue to integrate more fully as they go through Primary School. Most of these children have issues that effect their ability to pay attention and learn all day, every day, in school. Issues like Auditory Processing Disorder, problems with Fine and Gross Motor Skills, Self Regulation, Sensory issues etc. etc. etc!!
As part of the Integration process we change things to accommodate these issues. We also help them "change" so that they learn how to behave appropriately and how to follow the rules. And that's important. Rules are neccessary. Well, some rules are.
The school day can be fraught with difficulties for the ASD child. Some days they cope really well and others they don't. Currently, Snuggles is coping extremely well ...... excuse me while I now run around touching everything wooden in the house!! It has been noted since the week they got their Easter Hols and has continued since.
Some ASD children have a lot of Sensory issues that they can't contain. Others, like Snuggles and probably most Mainstreaming ASD kids, have some minor issues that they learn to tolerate. But....... how much can these sensory issues impinge on their behaviours on a difficult school day?? How hard is it on non-Favourite Uniform Days??
Let's talk this through ........ Say the day starts badly, for whatever reason, and they go into school in a bad mood. Then say ...... Teacher starts class with something unexpected (out of routine) so the child starts getting upset . The child is then reprimanded so gets even more upset. This continues on to the next lesson..... say English writing and they have impaired fine motor skills. Maybe they then receive a warning for their behaviour. At this point Snuggles, in fairness, would be taken out of the class by his SNA for a walk, a water break or maybe carry a heavy box to another class. Then they have breaktime .... no SNA support..... and the kids play a game with lots of rules...Aaaaarrrrggghhhhh. Things eventually blow up.
The ASD child gets hot under the collar and can't take it anymore. But if that collar is a restrictive, starchy, school shirt rather then the soft cotton collar of a Polo Shirt do things blow up sooner??? Would they not blow up at all if it was Favourite Uniform Day?? Have their Sensory issues around the school uniform had a negative effect on their Behaviours?
Later yesterday evening I brought the subject up with him again. I asked him why he thought he had no trouble on Favourite Uniform Days. He said "Because it's more comfty" (that's how he pronounces "comfy"!) I tried to get more info but I was treated to his standard Beefy Bert (from Horrid Henry") impersonation ........ "I Dunno..."!! He's already moved on!
I don't think it effects my guy that much so! If I thought for one moment that it was having a major negative impact on his learning ability I'd arrange a meeting and negotiate some leeway. For everyone's sake.
But I'll still ask the question ........... Should every day be a Favourite Uniform Day??
Or, as Snuggles asks me almost every day..... "Why do we have to wear a Uniform"??
Hmmmm..... why indeed? What is Dept of Education's thinking on this?
Well, per a recent report ..........
"School uniforms are generally viewed by schools as a means of providing a group identity for pupils, thus eliminating possible competition amongst students in matters of dress and the wearing of jewellery, etc."
Fair enough. That sounds reasonable. But who ultimately makes the decision whether or not a school wears a uniform, as not all schools do wear a uniform? Is it Dept of Ed??
No, it's not ........
"The issue of a school uniform is one for school authorities to design a policy on, following local consultations with the various members of the school community."
Now, I don't know the answer. I'm just raising the topic because I think it's an interesting one. I'm sure there are some kids out there being adversely affected by the wearing of a school uniform and it's interesting to note that the decision to wear one is made locally. That should help if parents of these kids want to negotiate with the local school authorites. You would think.
Apart from "group identity" what else does wearing a uniform teach them? What Life Skill does it teach them?? Will they have to wear a uniform in their working life?? Maybe they will. Depends on which area they work in. Do engineers, mathematicians, IT Personnel wear uniforms??!!!! No.... but mechanics do. And I can't imagine them being very comfortable!
Maybe it's a good Life Skill so. We don't always want to be "changing" them to fit in with the rest of the world but sometimes it's really neccessary.
Personally I think he looks handsome in his school uniform!
They all do. So we'll stick with it as long as it 's not adversely affecting him.
On a final note; today when changing out of official school uniform he says to me, unprompted ........
"I'm so happy Mum ....... tomorrow is Favourite Uniform Day"!!
And so, it continues ........